Way before the #MeToo movement gained momentum in Hollywood, actress Robin Givens made serious allegations against her then-husband, Mike Tyson. She accused the former heavyweight champion of physically abusing her during their relationship. Unfortunately, her allegations were met with a lot of backlash in the African-American community. But in the wake of the new movement, Givens revisited her past on The Wendy Williams Show, and discussed how her trauma hopefully brought strength to other victims.
“I would like to believe that I’m a better person for it, and more compassionate, and more loving,” the Boomerang actress said on Wednesday’s episode (Nov. 21).
Williams noted that Givens was one of the first women to come forward about her experiences with abuse. “Somebody told me what you said, somebody said, ‘You were like ground zero of #MeToo,'” Givens responded. “I pray that anything I’ve gone through, however difficult it was for me, helped somebody else.”
Givens went on to explain why she, like many other women in abusive relationships, chose to stay despite everything she endured. “I think sometimes as people, women—perhaps men experience the same thing—you have a hard time sticking up for yourself, but it’s easier to stick up for people you love,” she explained. “I remember being at our house in New Jersey in a closet off the kitchen and we were all in the closet, four of us hiding [from Tyson]; and I remember my sister bawling saying, ‘How long are you gonna put us all through this?'” The Riverdale star described that instance with her sister as the moment that gave her the push to leave for good.
Givens and Tyson were married from 1988 to 1989. Nearly eight months after they tied the knot, Givens filed for a divorce. In a joint interview with Tyson on 20/20 in 1988, Givens told host Barbara Walters that Tyson was “torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine.” “I think that there’s a time when he cannot control his temper, and that’s frightening,” she said at the time. Tyson later admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had “socked” Givens.
Watch Robin Givens’ full interview in the video above.